Magpies big test for patched-up Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies big test for patched-up Hawks

Sam Lienert 25/06/2011 10:23:06 AM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says next round's bumper AFL clash with Collingwood shapes as the big test of whether his patched-up side can still play the sort of football that wins finals.

Despite missing several injured and suspended players from all parts of the ground, the Hawks outclassed a limp Essendon 23.8 (146) to 12.9 (81) at the MCG on Friday night.

The lack of forward targets Lance Franklin, who will return from suspension against the Magpies, and Jarryd Roughead did not stop the Hawks producing 11 goal-kickers and leading by 61 points at halftime.

Youngsters Matt Suckling, Isaac Smith, Liam Shiels and Shane Savage - with 11 goals and 107 disposals between them - performed superbly.

But Clarkson said the ultimate test for that young group and for the Hawks' precision-kicking game plan, which cut Essendon apart, would come against the reigning premiers.

"The greatest strength of Collingwood's game is the way they pressure the ball-carrier and squeeze you into their own half," Clarkson said.

"That will be the great test for us, to see whether we've improved as a side.

"Our lads will get the opportunity to play at the MCG against the reigning premier, there'll be 70-80,000 people here I guess and that's just great experience for those lads, great exposure.

"It's great for our lads to play in front of big crowds and really test themselves to see if we can feature prominently at the end of the year."

Hawthorn won their most recent clash with Collingwood, in round 22 last year.

But there were 12 players from that side who did not play against the Bombers on Friday night, mostly due to injury.

Gun small forward Cyril Rioli (hamstring) and midfielder Brad Sewell (knee soreness) were added to the long injury list against the Bombers, with scans to determine their availability to play Collingwood.

The toughest injury obstacle for Hawthorn to overcome against the Magpies is likely to be to their tall defenders.

While they have coped well so far without Stephen Gilham, Ben Stratton and Ryan Schoenmakers, Clarkson acknowledged it was a step up in class facing Collingwood tall forward trio Travis Cloke, Chris Dawes and Leigh Brown.

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